Blogversation 2012: How do you define community and how do you nurture it?

Throughout this year, several bloggers will engage in a conversation here and on their blogs — asking questions of each other and responding. Others are absolutely welcome to join the conversation, as well. Learn more about the ladies of Blogversation 2012.

Today’s question — like last week’s installment, actually a series of related questions — comes from Amy Throndsen, on Twitter as @amyserves:

Amy Throndsen poses this week's Blogversation questions about the definition of community and how to nurture community.

Since graduating college in 2003, I joined an AmeriCorps program where lived in four different communities on the west coast over the course of 11 months, and I spent almost three years in China as a Peace Corps Volunteer.  After Peace Corps I traveled for five months through Southeast Asia, putting everything I had into a backpack and regularly hitting the dusty trail.  I lived in Washington, D.C. for two years after returning to the U.S. and am now in Madison, Wisc.

I’ve found that as I’ve lived and worked in multiple places, my “community” is spread out over the globe.  I’m grateful have those shared experiences (they’ve shaped my perspective and make me who I am today), but I’ve been focusing on how to make Madison my home and connect with a deeper sense of community here.

My question for you is about community:  How do you define it?  How do some people or places rise to the top of your list, as to where you’ll spend time and energy developing and nurturing those relationships?  What are some tips you’d give someone who is looking to establish themselves in a new community?

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Categories: home and family, lifestyle

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11 replies

  1. With social media and social networking, the concept of community has gotten somewhat misused and confused with other types of groups, especially with networks that are more designed for folks to sell services and products than to build what I think of as a cohesive community.

    I define community as a group of people who have a shared or collective sense of purpose. The people in a community are focused on what the work is and each person in the group is contributing to this shared purpose and doing the work together. It’s not just about single identities or promoting one’s individual wares.

    I devote the bulk of my energy to several communities that primarily function in real time – that is, most of our work and relationship-building gets done in face-to-face meetings and gatherings. We use technology to bolster our work and relationships, but it’s not the primary mechanism we use to do our work.

    In terms of tips for building community, I wrote a piece for Creative Times on that very topic. Here it is! http://creativetimes.blogspot.com/2008/06/ten-tips-for-building-community.html

    • Eleanor, I appreciate that you highlighted the fact that the communities you engage with use SM/technology to enhance your relationships. I loved your tips and am going to try #3 … in fact, I am going to put on my shoes and do it right now! 🙂

      Amy

  2. Community in my mind is a word which means peace, comfort and safety – a place that you can be yourself, whether it’s your own home or the circle of places you “visit” – work, church, town, city, and even vacation destinations. When you are yourself at peace and have confidence in your abilities to achieve success on many levels, you find that people what to find what you have found. They gravitate to you. That’s how groups like this – Blogversaton – exist. Fun, successful, self-confident people finding each other and feeding each other with positive ideas. It creates a productive of community who can reach out to others and mentor them. Someone once said that those who are exciting are on fire, and people will come just to watch them burn!! Motivation and enthusiasm are contagious… and those qualities build communities! We can give a gift to a friend or person you know in need by introducing them to a community of people on fire!!

    • Sandra – You are an “on fire” soul … I’m so glad we bumped into each other again last week & I can’t wait for the next time we’re able to burn together (hopefully it will be over a glass of wine!). Thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts on community. I love that you mentioned that community includes being a safe place where you can be yourself. I absolutely agree.
      – Amy

    • Sandra, I *love* this line: We can give a gift to a friend or person you know in need by introducing them to a community of people on fire!!

      I am working to cultivate a community of inspiring, passionate people and love the idea both of getting introduced to people on fire and of being the one to connect those burning hot amazing people to others.

      Bring it on, y’all! Bring me your people on fire.

  3. This is an important issue to me. I’ve lived in cities my whole life and have had the freelance lifestyle for the better part of 16 years. Now I’m in rural Western Massachusetts in my 40s after having given up everything (long story) and live only with my mother, who I’m taking care of, in a place that I feel completely disconnected from. It’s the “starting all over” phase that some creative soul-searchy types like myself go through at some point. However, it’s getting old and I don’t know what to do next. Winters in New England in culturally sparse areas like this are brutal, boring and lonely without peers and you can’t just “hang out downtown” like I did in New York City for years. I don’t know why I just posted this. Maybe I’ll just see what other 40-somethings are doing out here now that Spring is coming.

    • Scott, I think it’s admirable that you have moved your life to care for your mother, and also important to remember that in order to take good care of her you need to take care of yourself. I hope the spring helps you find ways to connect with peers in your community and you can take those friendships in by the fireplace next winter. – Amy

    • Scott, I’m sure being in rural Massachusetts has its own special challenges, but maybe it also has some unique advantages you’ll discover? I find that in New York, people are all so busy, either working or doing all the 12,000 things going on, that it can be tough to spend meaningful time with someone you’d like to get to know. That might be especially true in midlife, when whatever “free” time people have tends to go to the kids.

      Maybe in a smaller town, with fewer competing events and less chance someone has an hour commute home, you’ll be able to connect in a more leisurely way?

      Wishing you the best of luck discovering how it works best for you — let us know?

  4. Hi Amy! Kristen Bassick did a review of a book on the myG blog that seems like the perfect answer to your question: http://blog.mygreenlight.com/2012/02/an-unlikely-and-enjoyable-networking-guide/. It’s all about consciously creating a new personal network.

    I feel like this is a question that’s coming up a lot for people – our communities feel so mobile, thanks to FB etc, but then we move to a new place and realize how important a physical, local community is. I was so lucky when I moved to NY, because the combination of work colleagues and associates (Colleen Newvine being one!) and old friends from high school (and even earlier!) took me under their wing right away.

    • Sara, Thanks for the link to Kristen’s book – looks fantastic, I’m going to check it out! I feel the same way you did about NYC as I do in Madison. I work from home and still travel quite a bit so finding my “place” and “people” in Madison has been a bit harder. I’m lucky to have a few friends from college here and being close to family for the first time in almost a decade has been an added bonus. Thanks for posting your thoughts! – Amy

Trackbacks

  1. Blogversation 2012: Wrapping up a year of online conversation « Newvine Growing — exploring evolution, revolution and living life intentionally

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